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Yoga in South Africa (SA yoga statistics).

May 17, 2012

Yoga Awakening Africa was contacted in mid-January to attend the International Convention on Yoga and Naturopathy in India, Bangalore in February 2012. We were asked to do a presentation on yoga in South Africa and where we are standing with yoga at the moment. We accepted the invitation and Nina Saacks went over to form an international yoga alliance with a number of international yoga teachers, therapists and organisations. The idea was to create a working group to keep up to date with what is happening with yoga internationally.

Yoga Awakening Africa undertook some private research to find out what is happening locally.

Here are our 2012 findings:

  • Yoga was introduced to South Africa in the early 60’s.
  • Yoga has grown exponentially over the last 5 years.
  • There are about 20 Teacher Training Schools in SA at present.
  • The newer schools mainly started offering yoga teacher training in the last 5-8 years.
  • Most teacher training schools are aligned with Yoga Alliance or the International Yoga Teachers’ Association, some are not aligned with any organisation.
  • There have been about 75 teacher trainings in the last 10 years, qualifying over 1000 teachers.
  • The cost of doing a teachers training course in South Africa ranges from R10, 000 to R18, 000.
  • Community work, known as seva, is an ever growing part of yoga in South Africa and most studios are aligned with one of the major projects, SevaUnite, Ananda Kutir Outreach Project, ChildLine, the EarthChild Projects and Brave.

We can see from the above, that yoga is definitely becoming a lot more popular with the general public, more gyms, private people and institutions are offering yoga classes. We also realise that there are a number of different yoga styles around, all offering a slightly different take on yoga, which means that there definitely is more choice available, making it more accessible and appropriate to a wider audience.

The main challenges that we face in South Africa at the moment are:

1) There is no local, central yoga body, forum or register to set teacher training standards.

2) Many yoga teachers are seeing the benefits of yoga and would like to study further, however there is no locally or internationally recognised and registered yoga therapy course available to partake in SA.

3) Yoga therapy is not an accepted remedial or therapeutic practice in the medical profession.

4) There is no distinction between practicing yoga for fitness and health compared to using yoga as a therapeutic means to live a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.

Opportunities available to us:

There are a number of organisations, businesses, schools and community projects that have introduced yoga into the workplace and employers are now seeing the benefits of having a regular yoga practice available to their staff etc. We now need to work towards creating research projects where we can test the impact that yoga plays on an organisation.

With all of the above in mind, with time and dedication to deepen and share the knowledge of yoga, I am sure we will be able to overcome the challenges we are currently facing and will be able to assist in sharing research findings with our international partners.

Looking for a yoga studio in your area? Follow this link to our teachers listing section.

Should there be any institution that would be interested in helping us build up our database and help with research funding, please contact Nina.


Nina Saacks is the founder of Yoga Awakening Africa and has been teaching integral hatha yoga, (Sivananda yoga) since 2003 in Cape Town. She loves spending time in her yoga studio with her students, up the mountain with her hiking buddies, around a dinner table with her friends, and when she can spending time in bed reading a good book with Kat and some Lindt chocolates. She believes that health equals balance in life, enjoying what you do and doing what you enjoy, and to never take yourself too seriously! |

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